31 July 2009

August, Almost


Me and Paige at Mat's BBQ
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Either something good just happened with "the cricket," or my neighbors just won the lottery. Either way there's lots of happy yelling through the wall.

It's almost August and we're still plugging along here in Keighley. We've had a family come look at the house who decided that it was too small. In the words of my wise sister in law..."It's a terraced house...it is what it is...of course it's a bit small." The board still hangs on the post in front of the house, and we're starting to think about some minor home improvements that could be done toward getting it sold.

In big news this past fortnight (well, big news to those of us that don't yet have Indefinite Leave to Remain or UK citizenship), the Borders, Citizenship, and Immigration bill became a law at the hands of Mr. Brown and has been approved or ratified or punched or stamped by HRM, so we're in limbo at the moment over what it means for my process. "It extends the residence requirement for citizenship applicants to eight years from five for people with work permits. Those married to a British national need five years in the U.K. instead of three." [Source: Bloomberg.com] How does this affect me, you might ask?

Well, you might not, actually. You might not care. But you might, so I'll go on.

I am on a temporary Leave to Remain or Spousal Visa currently. Prior to the BCI becoming law, I was permitted to live in the UK for two years, at which time I would apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). At any time after I'd been here on ILR for a year, I could start the process to become a British Citizen.

I've always been opposed to that because I just didn't see a need, really. ILR lets me work and not get chucked out of the country, so I figured that was enough for me. I don't see a point in the future when I will ever consider myself British...I'm American, and while I know that it doesn't change that to hold British citizenship, I just wasn't interested.

Here's where it gets tricky. I don't think that I am going to be subject to the new regs because everything that I've read on the BCI says that it takes effect NO EARLIER than July of 2011. Groovy, my TLR visa runs out in May of 2011. So I apply for ILR as was our plan. However, it's my understanding that part of the point of the BCI is to phase out ILR, so will I get to stay on that status indefinitely? Will I be forced to go for citizenship or go back to the US?

Also, if I'm allowed to stay on ILR but I'm out of the country more than two years (like if Simon and I moved back to the US for any period of time) then I'd have to reapply for a spousal visa to come back if we moved back to the UK. Seems like no big deal, really, when you look at the paperwork, but here's something else to consider that will really bake your noodle.

Yeah, I quoted the Matrix. So?

The fees associated with this process are insane. My first visa was, considering the exchange rate at the time was awful, around $800 (approx £500+). If we stay in the UK past the end of my initial visa, the cost to apply for the ILR is £820. Suppose after I get it, I decide that I do want to apply for citizenship? That will be £720, please.

So we could either get me a shiny maroon passport to go with my slightly less shiny navy blue one, or we could move to the US and buy a car. And in case you're wondering, Simon's green card in the US (equivalent to ILR, from my understanding) would be $355. I'm not sure how much it is for American citizenship, but I'm pretty sure it's not whatever the exchange rate makes £720.

For now, though, it's August, almost, and I've been here almost four months. Applications have been sent out willy nilly, but no job on the horizon just yet. And for those wondering, we are currently on an active quest for Baby Dunne. No news on that front yet, but much to my husband's chagrin you'll be the first to know!!

C'ya Later, Ray.

Today the Zoo and I are mourning the loss of one of our own "from anudda mudda," Commander Ray, soulmate of my dear friend Anne.
Dogs don't know about beginnings, and they don't speculate on matters that occurred before their time. Dogs also don't know — or at least don't accept — the concept of death. With no concept of beginnings or endings dogs probably don't know that for people having a dog as a life companion provides a streak of light between two eternities of darkness.

Stanley Coren
Ray Ray, we miss and love you to absolute bits. Say hello to H and J for me, willya?

22 July 2009

Bliss...interrupted.

Don't panic, it's nothing like that. Just that I came back from our American vacation feeling like I could do anything, take over the world, fly, etc. and all that positive thinking went straight out our non-double glazed windows the minute my rear end hit the futon.

Why? I'm not really sure. People tell me that I'm under a lot of stress, that I'm trying to do so many things at once, that trying to start a family in a new country while still dealing with the loss of my two best canine friends and my lack of employment etc is more than any one person should have to bear and I need to just take things as they come.

That would fly with me if this were still April. Or even May, really, but it's July, almost August. There is no reason why I should be still stuck in this rut, but the fact is I am and I need to get a ladder and climb on out, already.

I do have my little victories, don't get me wrong. I met Simon at ASDA on Monday after having made a stop off at another shop on the way and didn't get lost (I did, however, get a blister on my heel because my shoe kept eating my sock, but that's neither here nor there). Last night I made us a "Summer Dinner" for tea that would have made my mother proud: BBQ baked chicken, Kraft mac and cheese (the blue box...yummmmm), and a mixed fruit salad made of melon, nectarine, and pear.

In other news, I have a job app out there for a part time receptionist position and a lead on a work-from-home job, either of which would give us a bit of extra money and would keep me busy, so you four or five Lettuce readers cross your fingers. Off I go now to get some laundry done and hung outside...so that it will rain. No drought here, no sir-ee.

09 July 2009

Focus


focus
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I'm back now from our vacation to the US, and I am just about over the stuffy head/sore throat I brought back. I'm trying really hard not to fall back into the place where I was before we left, and instead trying to focus on positives. It's like I have a camera lens for a brain and every so often I have to adjust the focus because I can't see anything clearly beyond the end of my own nose.

Already today I've done...nothing. To be fair, I really want whatever has invaded my sinuses to vacate, and I know full well that if I overdo it I'll be right back where I was as the plane was taking off on Tuesday...a head full of guck and problems swallowing.

Maybe I'm not ready to let go of being on vacation and not having responsibilities. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to do so much while we were in America that we didn't rest or relax much. Maybe there's still a bit of homesickness hanging out in the farthest corner of my brain, underneath Algebra and other things that I was promised would be useful when I grew up.

I did find it strangely comforting to get off the plane at Manchester Airport and find that process so familiar. I found the train, sat down with the latest Sookie Stackhouse book and I was back home again, complete with rolling hills out the train window and Turkey's Eurovision entry in my ears.

I'm lucky that I didn't have to rush back to work and I can ease out of vacation mode...but at the same time a bit of distraction wouldn't hurt.

06 July 2009

Almost back home...


Peace, Love, and Geeks
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Simon just reminded me that in 48hrs I will be back home and I'm surprisingly excited. I was a bit sad yesterday, and honestly it was because I was feeling like I wasn't sure where I belonged. When I'm with Simon I know where I belong, and when he left I was surprisingly lost. Well, not surprising I guess because I belong with my husband, but I thought that it would be just more of the same, hanging out with family and friends and loving being in America.

While I did do all that, I felt out of sorts somehow. It's a strange feeling, the first time you come back to your home country yet you don't have a "home." I visited Anne and stayed in the room I lived in back in March, but it was different. Before when I'd visit Simon, I'd come back home to my home, so this time I'm really a visitor in the States. I even find myself referring to Keighley as home, which is a bittersweet small victory (nod to Katy and Christine Kane, there).

Today is a bit of shopping with Mom and Dad and then the monumental task of shoving toothpaste back in the tube...otherwise known as packing suitcases. Heaven help me come Christmas time if we have to take back gifts on a 1 checked bag each allowance. I just hope the sniffer dogs at the airports aren't fond of Zebra Cakes or Kraft Dinners!

04 July 2009

Happy Birthday, America.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Vacation Days Are Numbered...


Exit sign, KWVR Station
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Here's a quick recap of our American Vacation...

22 June: Get up before the crack of dawn and catch taxis/trains to Manchester Airport. Land in Atlanta, take train to meet family and spend a lovely night with Susan and Dave and Joy.

23 June: Travel to gorgeous North Georgia Mountains with parents.

24 June: Have lovely lunch with my father's sisters and brother. Got to meet Dad's brother for the first time, and found him to be a lovely man and an absolute image of my father in 20 years.

25 June: Traveled up to Greenville for a wonderful evening with Katy, Kurt, and ELLLLLLEREEEEE. Thanks for providing us an oasis of calm and a fabulous evening of conversation. We'll put the sheets on the guest room bed for you right away!

26 June: Became shopping fools at the "Yellow Mall" in Gaffney, SC. Discovered just how much heat one body can take before shopping stops being fun. I did manage to snag two new pairs of Privo! Sofrito shoes from the Clarks outlet which made me happy beyond mention. If anyone can find a pair of them in denim, I'll be your hero...

26-28 June: Left Yellow Mall and headed to Anne's in Greenville. Had an awesome weekend of laughing, shopping, Girly-Fying Leah, and general tomfoolery. I really needed that, Ladies (and Russell). Thank you so much.

28 June: Traveled back to Mom and Dad's to get Simon's things together and ready for him to fly back to the UK. Spent another lovely evening just hanging out and talking, then a harried few hours cramming things into every inch of his luggage.

29 June: Went back to Greenville to take Simon to the airport, and then took Leah to the Yellow Mall for more Girly Shopping. Finished off the evening with mexican food al fresco in downtown Greenville followed by a grand stroll up and down Main St. I absolutely adore that town, even in the sweltering heat.

30 June: Left to go back to Mom and Dad's. Caught an online class that gave me some CEUs for my interpreting certificate and again had a great time just sitting around talking. Have I mentioned how much I love my family?

1 July: Fantastic Day. Did Nothing. Much Relaxation.

2 July: Took a field trip to Athens, GA. I had lunch with my former boss and long time friend, Kevin. Was good to catch up and CHINESE BUFFET is always a good choice. After lunch, he dropped me off at THE MOST GORGEOUS TARGET I HAVE EVER SEEN and I spent two hours wandering the aisles before Mom and Dad came to collect me...and spent yet another hour there. When I tore myself away from Nirvana...err...Target, we headed over to pick up my Aunt and had a lovely dinner at Roadhouse Grill. Good day all around...I drove the BMW back to Cleveland and it didn't try to strangle me with the seat belt even once.

3 July: Packing day...sort of. Dad and I went up to my G'ma's house and got some of my things that had been in storage, and ended up sitting in the den just talking for a few hours. I learned more about my family and about Dad's time growing up, as well as felt very close to my Aunt who died almost two years ago. Was a bittersweet but good day.

That brings us to today...we are going to Susan and Dave's to have a BBQ with them and then hear Susan preach tomorrow morning. I'm packed other than essentials and am now heading off to get all girly-fied and ready to go see the most gorgeous baby on the earth, Joy.

Simon and I were discussing this vacation before he left on Monday, and I think that we will see a different Nancy when I get back home on Wednesday. I needed to get away, even though I don't work yet. Our house was becoming a shrine to all I had lost. I was still suffering under the losses of Jeany and Hunky as though they'd just happened. I was lamenting the loss of things I'd had in America and was unable to embrace the things I now have in the UK. Now I find myself missing my English friends and ready to get back to Keighley and start my new life...only 4 months late, right?

Dia duit ó GARF.

Almost TOO Irish, that. Go raibh míle maith agat  to Chris Heffron (of the Southern Travel Guide ) for this great shot from last Sund...